Published October 30th, 2018
by Pathways Digital
Getting to the first page of Google for as many high-value terms as possible is one of the dreams of any SEO. The way search engines are ranking websites have changed, and keywords aren’t as important as they used to be when you want to gather those much-desired rankings. In this article, we are going to talk more about switching from keywords to pillar pages and topic clusters.
Why Have Search Engines Changed How They Rank Websites?
If you are a search engine optimization expert that was winning before the changes happened, you may wish that Google and its colleagues would have left well enough alone. As a search engine user and business owner that rolls with the punches, you should get excited.
Search engines have changed the way they rank websites and their pages in order to give users a better experience. Instead of showing results simply because of what keywords are listed in the post, there is much more going into the decision about which page to show. Search engines found that topic clusters and pillar pages are a great way to bring top results to their users for the best search experience.
What Are Topic Clusters & Pillar Pages?
Pillar pages are a broad overview of a topic. The cluster pages are about sub-topics of the topic. For each pillar page that you have, you want to have at least fifteen cluster pages and even thirty depending on the size of your website.
The strategy is very simple, but it is also very powerful. You want to make sure that all of your content is high-quality and consistent. Making sure that the pillar pages and cluster pages are set up correctly will help you get the best rankings possible.
Why Focus on Topic Clusters & Pillar Pages
Now that you know what topic clusters and pillar pages are, you need to understand why you should focus on them. Focusing on topic clusters and pillar pages will signal to search engines that you are an authority on the topic. Since you have so much interlinked information, you will be a great resource to the people that come to visit your website.
On the more technical side of things, each page has what is called pagerank. Your homepage usually has the highest pagerank since websites often link back to homepages which cause them to have higher pagerank. If your homepage is linking to a bunch of different pages that are linking to a bunch of other different pages, it is very likely that there are going to be pages with pagerank so low that they won’t have a hope of ranking.
You want to focus on topic clusters and pillar pages so your homepage can direct page rank to your pillar pages and your pillar pages can direct pagerank to the cluster pages. This will give you a nice flow for your content and your pagerank.
How You Can Use This Knowledge to Boost Your Business
Understanding what topic clusters and pillar pages are isn’t enough. Now you need to start implementing best practices so that you can get the most results out of your content. Here are some tips on how you can use this knowledge to boost your business.
Continue On-Page Optimization
Don’t stop optimizing your web pages. You need to use your main keyword and LSI keywords so that search engines know what your page is about. On-page optimization is a basic need that your website has so keep doing it.
When you are linking to content from your pillar pages and your cluster pages, you shouldn’t link to other pages on your site. You also should greatly limit the pages that you link to outside of your website. If you need to link out to another website, make sure it is a respected authority in your niche. As a rule, interlink your cluster pages and pillar pages within a given topic for the best results.
Properly Build Your Pillar Pages
Your pillar pages should be broad and give its readers a good idea of the overall topic, but it should not be exhaustive. While it should address every issue in the topic in order to be an authority on the topic, you need to have pieces that you can go in depth on for your cluster pages.
You need to optimize for questions. Figure out what people are going to be asking about your topic. Search engines are becoming more and more friendly to question queries. Your cluster pages should answer questions and focus on long tail keywords but your pillar page should give them enough information that they feel educated on a high level.
Define Your Topic Clusters
Before you start executing your strategy, you need to define your topic clusters. What are your users interested in? Even if you don’t have a specific offering on the topic, you want to attract this demographic, so you develop helpful content around the topics in which they are interested.
Look for any content gaps where you need to create content that will answer a question or help your potential customers in some way. Content gaps may be on your own site, or they may be in the industry overall. If you help with issues that are not properly covered, you can get a lot of traffic in the search engines if people aren’t creating content for the queries.
While keywords are still important, they are not the end all be all. What is important is creating a website with content that is helpful to your visitors. Having pillar pages in place gives you a search engine boost because it does allow for better user experience. Continue to build out your website or work with a HubSpot certified B2B marketing agency
to build out your website. There are a lot of things to learn when you are getting started with inbound marketing, but working with a top agency can help you get the results that you want even faster than working on your strategy by yourself.